5 ways the pipeline industry is building the future now

Building the Future Now. It wasn’t just the theme and focus at the International Pipeline Conference 2018 (IPC) held in Calgary from Sept 24 to 28.

It was also a declaration of the pipeline industry’s commitment to the public – that it is continuously making improvements in transparency, safety, environmental stewardship, diversity and innovation.

In Canada, these commitments are delivered upon every day by CEPA members through Integrity First, CEPA’s flagship program that drives continuous improvement, collaboration and as an industry works towards its ultimate goal of zero incidents.

CEPA members joined over 1,500 pipeline professionals from around the world at the event, which featured over 280 technical papers, tutorials led by experts in their field and panel discussions. IPC has been held in Calgary bi-annually since 1996 and provides an opportunity to discuss challenges and offer solutions around issues that pipeline operators face around the globe.

Here are five ways the pipeline industry is building the future, through the perspectives of the IPC participants and speakers.

  1. The future is about transparency and context

The pipeline industry must provide better facts and context to the public, members of the IPC executive leadership panel agreed.

For example, Andy Vance, vice president at Enbridge Pipelines noted the industry needs to explain the causes behind incidents — such as third party damage — and how systems, like the One-Call service, have been put in place to prevent them.

“The public’s expectation on information and awareness continues to go up and up,” said Ian Anderson, president and CEO of Trans Mountain Corporation.

“The project we are trying to build today is better because of the public engagement we have had over the last four, five years.”

Transparency is only half the equation. Without context, you don’t have the full picture.

International Pipeline Conference 2018

The Executive leadership panel consisted of (l to r) Carl Weimer, Executive Director, Pipeline Safety Trust; Peter Watson, CEO/chair, National Energy Board; Howard “Skip” Elliott, Administrator, PHMSA; Ian Anderson, President and CEO, Trans Mountain Corporation and Andy Drake, Vice President, Enbridge.


  1. The future is about digital transformation

Innovation, particularly digital innovation, could be seen throughout the conference and exhibition – from the technologies focused on helping companies make data-driven decisions to the Young Pipeliners Panel, which discussed how data will transform the future of the industry.

“There’s a whole digital transformation; the industry is getting more efficient,” said Vik Kohli, director of engineering services at Enbridge Pipelines and chair of the CEPA Foundation.

Vik said inline inspection technology, like smart pigs, and anything related to data is becoming extremely important for decision-making.

“Data used to be an afterthought; now it’s at the forefront,” he said. “There is an opportunity in front of us to really drive change.”


  1. The future is about diversity of thought and talent

Diversity is key to a thriving industry. It means creating workplaces that are inclusive, embrace employees’ differences and strengths and provide opportunities for all.

“Just as we are searching for the newest technology, we are always seeking diversity of thought and talent [to achieve a strong safety culture],” said Cynthia Hansen, executive vice president, utilities and power operations at Enbridge, who delivered a keynote speech on the subject.

Sarah Vandaiyar, the CEO of the Young Pipeliners Association of Canada echoed that sentiment.

“With all the changes we have seen so far, it’s hard to say where we are going to be in 40 years. Technology challenges, regulatory challenges — we need young, fresh ideas to look at that,” said the project engineer from TransCanada Corporation, and this year’s recipient of the Young Pipeline Professional Award.


Cynthia Hansen, executive vice president, utilities and power operations at Enbridge, delivers a keynote speech on culture and diversity.


  1. The future is about regulatory engagement

Peter Watson, chair and CEO of the National Energy Board discussed how the role of the regulator is changing due to increased public awareness and engagement.

The business of regulating energy infrastructure is as complex as ever, he noted, adding, “We have to continue to focus relentlessly on the contribution we make as a regulator. We need to be better at sharing, so we can be accountable.”

“There are fundamental things we need to get our heads around. How do we evaluate our performance and share that information with the public? We need to look at our own culture as a regulator, [and] facilitate the right kind of safety culture across the industry.”


  1. The future is about getting to zero incidents

Zero incidents, the standard sought by CEPA members, is the goal for all pipeline companies at the conference.

“Zero will never be met by enforcing minimal standards,” said Howard ‘Skip’ Elliott, administrator at the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration.

He said getting to zero is about focusing on research and development, safety culture and innovation.

“To get to zero incidents, there must be progression and evolution in the industry. The industry must engage with stakeholders and show we are committed with them to get to zero,” added Andy Vance of Enbridge.

Find out more about CEPA members’ standard of 100 per cent safe delivery and advancements in innovation.